Beer, Chips and Cricket

This is a site about drinking beer, eating chips and thinking cricket. I am not a former player, a television commentaror or a journalist; my qualification to being worthy of hearing is that I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of chips and think a lot about cricket. The thoughts need not be politically correct and often include colourful language but there will be no deliberate bias towards any player, community or state. I don't care about popular opinion or perceptions and I speak it as I see it.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Sehwag and Yuveraj - openers

Just before Sehwag opened in tests, I had this article on Rediff - - that basically laid out a case for why Sehwag would succeed as opener. Note - One thing I am specially proud of ... Prem Panicker of Rediff wrote the same thing in one of his articles one week or so "after" my article came out.

People often don't get it when I tell them that I always thought Sehwag would succeed and Yuveraj wouldn't ... both are strokeplayers and both certainities in the ODI team and both came from the middle order. Why should one succeed and one not ... often, I get complaints about not being consistent with my views.

See, if u read the article above, u will know my reasons for advocating Sehwag as opener. People consider his technique to be deficient for an opener .... I believe it is simply coz he attacks so much and is different from the typical opener for whom seeing off the new ball is the main criteria. Sehwag doesn't show a lot of defensive technique coz he is too busy hitting them to the boundary. But on occassions that he does defend, one can easily see that he does it naturally ... he doesn't seem awkward leaving balls or just patting them back.

The main point between Yuvi and Sehwag, according to me, is the strength on the off side ... coz both are strong on leg, maybe Yuvi even more than Sehwag. Sehwag is very strong simply coz he has attacking strokes on the off ... he drives well, both from the back foot and while smashing (he doesn't really drive this) half volleys from the front foot ... his quick eye and quicker wrist movement makes him a very natural cutter of the ball and many of his runs are scores past point and gully, not coz of edges or mishits but coz he bludgeoned the ball over there. While Yuvi will also dispatch the half volleys from the faster bowlers, the drive off the back foot is least convincing ... this is coz his feet don't move and the bat is very far away from the body when he plays (or lunges) this shot ... a deadly combination. Yuveraj is also not a natural cutter of the ball though he plays the shot ... and so basically he is restricted in his shot selection .... which basically means that to survive he needs the required skills to either defend or leave the balls outside off. Defending requires good foot movement which Yuvi doesn't have ... and leaving requires judgement outside off which he can probably develop with time ... but if he is gonna develop as an opener who leaves balls outside off, then tell me again - why are we looking past Chopra?

Sehwag's eye is so quick that u almost never see him push at the ball ... which generally happens when the batsman can't decide what to do ... he either goes back and cuts or comes forward and plays to the front of the wicket ... Yes, he edges behind but that is not coz of indecisiveness ... he thinks he can smash that one past covers and sometimes misjudges the movement of the ball ... happens to the best of batsmen. With Yuveraj, because of his foot movement (or lack of it), against any decent pace attack in tests, he will always struggle because he pushes at the ball ... a bit like Ganguly at the start of his innings but Gangs' greater strength at driving and cutting puts him over Yuvi in my list.

The short ball is probably the only place where Yuvi scores over Sehwag ... on the off it is not a problem coz Sehwag can slash it away over slips (i think fielders at third man routinely look for a catch over there when Sehwag bats) but when the ball is on the body, Sehwag is vulnerable ... while Yuvi has a great pull shot. Even on the pull shot, we have seen Yuvi play that shot with panache in the ODIs but playing it coming in at number 5 or so in a ODI is different from playing it as an opener against the new ball in a test ... Yuvi is a good puller but for this he needs to become even better ... Langer and Hayden pull so naturally that they get runs 90% of the times ... he has to become that good for his pull to become a weapon in tests. Otherwise, talking about his pulling really doesn't mean much coz he is not gonna be batting in the middle order.

As I read my article again (about Sehwag opening), these words come back to me from that article -

Laxman, Dravid, Tendulkar, Sehwag and Ganguly are all proven players at the international level. With people like Mongia, Kaif and Yuvraj (I know - weak outside the off stump but let's at least call him a prospect) knocking on the doors of Test cricket, the problem today is too many batsmen in the middle order and none anywhere else

And Another place

Sehwag is a naturally attacking batsman but the beauty of his attack is in its correctness. He doesn't need to sacrifice his technique for getting those savage square cuts, drives off back foot and front, turning his wrist to delicately play the ball through mid on or to smack it over mid-wicket. If it were a bad ball, he hits it and if it were a good ball then he defends it. No unnecessary complications and definitely, unlike Dravid, doesn't carry the world on his shoulders.


Just remember, it is nothing personal against Yuveraj ... if I were picking my squad for ODI cricket, he would be an automatic choice. Test cricket, uh-huh ... I don't think so.


The Chuckster


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